Too Much To Do, Not Enough Time: Week 3 at Upgrow, Inc.

I was sick half of this week, which makes it a bit difficult to pass any significant judgement, but it seems to me that I’ve done pretty well at doing what I wanted to do last week, both in and out of work. I feel like I’m steadily reconciling with my boss, figuring out how he wants me to work for him and working that way. I’m still working on it, but it seems he dislikes me less now, and our weekly 1:1 exclusively contained discussions of projects, instead of its previous status quo of being mostly about the behaviors of mine that he disliked.

I’m also improving at my proper job description. I’m learning how to do a number of things, including link building and SEO article writing, with decent efficiency and correctness of technique. The biggest thing I’ve learned about SEO is that you always have way more data than you can or should try to make sense of, so you absolutely need to winnow it down before trying to work with it, since otherwise you end up going down time-consuming rabbit holes doing things which are not optimally efficient.

The most notable out-of-work things I’ve done this week are completing the move into my permanent residence, signing an Official Adult Lease™, and purchasing a bed, which isn’t that big a deal in the scheme of things but just feels like an Adult thing to do. Staying in a community center for a month was incredibly fun, but it also made me feel a bit like I didn’t have a home. Now, I feel more like I live in California.

My biggest current problem is optimization of time. Now that I’m no longer spending most of my non-working time hyper-analyzing past interactions with my boss to figure out what I’m doing wrong, I have time to do other stuff, but I need to understand what that other stuff should be. Possible candidates for top priority slots include, but are not limited to, resuming work on my tech projects, updating the websites I’ve made using what I now know about SEO, documenting some of the cool and important stuff I’ve learned about SEO from the standpoint of a beginner getting started, doing research on our current clients and learning tons of stuff about especially the tech-focused ones so I open avenues to potentially transition into working for them after I’m done working here, continuing to work on marketing certifications, re-starting work on tech certifications, reading books on business, and going to the community center I used to live at for purposes of networking.

Still, I’m optimistic. It’s very nice that we’ve made good enough financial choices that we don’t have to worry too much about money, even though we’re effectively paying twice the usual rent because we needed to put down a security deposit. I forgot to eat breakfast before I left this morning and I was able to buy myself pancakes at a cafe near work. It’s nice to have a place to call home, though I’m still working on thinking of it that way. (A definition of “home” that’s heretofore been static for thirteen years kinda does that.) And as with every week here, I’ve been meeting and hanging out with tons of interesting people.

The Importance of Perseverance and Umbrellas: Week 2 at Upgrow, Inc.

This job is getting very difficult, but not for the reasons you might expect. Yes, marketing is itself hard, but it’s actually been harder acclimating to the work environment. Not just the startup environment, though that definitely contributes, but my interactions with the people there. I made a few stupid social mistakes early on, and I have a few personality clashes with my direct supervisor which I need to work on.

Some of the most important things I’ve learned from this job so far, then, have actually been about how to work through such problems. I am learning a ton about marketing, because my supervisor is ridiculously good at what he does. But I could have learned marketing from any expert marketer: having an expert marketer that I don’t naturally get along with very well is an additional level of challenge, and I’m learning a lot about the social rules of the white-collar workplace as a result.

I would be lying to say it’s all sunshine and roses: actually, I seem to have brought a rare rainstorm to sunny San Francisco. But like the umbrella that snapped in half on the first day after I moved here and left me to walk soaking wet for miles, these difficulties are teaching me perseverance, as well as the importance of having a good umbrella.

As to the actual marketing work, it’s incredibly interesting. I never realized SEO could be so complicated: the last time I checked, keyword stuffing and cloaking were frequently-used tactics. Now, it’s all about knowing your audience and getting voluntary backlinks from reputable sites.

One of my recent projects I’ve been working on for a handful of clients is that latter, we call it “link building”. This encompasses many things, from posting useful answers on forums to giving helpful information to reporters, but what I’m currently working on is getting links from individual peoples’ blogs. Basically, the process is that I figure out some people who blog about the thing our client does, and I see if there’s a place on their blog where they’d improve their content by linking to our client. Then, I send an outreach email, asking for the link.

Outside of work, my life is less difficult and more surreal. Living with rationalists, I keep having very interesting conversations. Interesting, both in the sense of intriguing and strange. People here regularly use phrases like “terminal value”, “cached thought”, “operational definition”, and “cognitive dissonance”. Everyone knows the ANI/AGI/ASI distinction. I have only met one other person who is not currently working as a programmer. And yet, we have these discussions laying about on couches, playing stupid card games, and drinking wine out of boxes. I went for cheap Chinese with some dude who works for Google.

Since I’m living in a community center until I can move into my permanent residence, there are all sorts of people and events which come through here. I’ve learned about the YIMBY movement, about animal rights activism and the clinically proven benefits of meditation. It’s so interesting learning about so many different points of view and political movements that I’d never heard of in any great detail before.

California has, in general, been a healing force for me, mostly due to one of the first friends I made here. No later than two hours after landing in CA, I met an absolute ray of sunshine who helped me through the rain, and continues to do so. He’s made awesome, healthy food that I’ve been able to take in for lunch sometimes, led some of the best meditation sessions I’ve ever attended, and generically made the whole environment and experience very positive. We’re both moving out of the community center soon, but I very much hope we can stay in touch after we’re no longer housemates. This friend, along with my fiancé and my mom, have been my umbrella.

I dearly hope this metaphor made sense.